The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a wonderful novel. Moving, thoughtful, highly observant. I didn’t want to put it down. Unusual for a literary work, it is also a page-turner. I really wanted to keep going, to follow the story, to know how things turn out for the two main characters and at least a couple of the secondary ones. I wanted to spend more time in their company.
Barbery, a professor of philosophy in France, born in Casablanca, creates a very accessible world, with a light touch, even though some of the subject matter is heavy. She sets her novel on the Left Bank in Paris, in an upper-middle-class apartment building, filled with the well-to-do, with intellectual and political heavy weights. She paints the picture by alternating two voices, one who speaks directly to us, the other via her diary.
Before I die, I will sleep in a temple in Greece, a temple dedicated to Aphrodite. I will wake transformed, and wander the hills and valleys once seen by Achilles, Diomedes, Perseus and Heracles. I will find the place where Odysseus came ashore after his exile. I will find the treasures of Mycenae and walk where Agamemnon walked. Athena will watch over me. I will not let a moment pass without finding the ancients in the air.
Before Nietzsche, Greece was sunlight and the shining power of rational thought. After Nietzsche, Greece was Dionysian as well as Apollonian. Today, for those who live there or travel there, there must be a new complexity, a new set of variables that destroys dichotomies.
Velma Jean Reeb has been there and offers us poetry in celebration of her travels. We welcome her to Spinozablue.
The Party’s Over
four o’clock in the morning…
creeping over the
Parthenon: the city
asleep, the ancients
awake, as always,
at their modern counterparts
whose muscle only
hard cunning, irresistible
As though looking for the Nativity beneath the neon lights of Christmas hawkers, we searched Greece and found sicca flourishing beneath the bare-boned ruins of our own beginnings. If Odysseus’ shores are now thick with bikinied beautiful people, the sun that bakes their flesh is the same as the one poor Elpenor saw before his fated, foolish fall. And if the yachts, flying the brilliant flags of too much diversity, leave no room now for Odysseus’ single-purposed craft, well, that cave—the one we scanned at Aegina, the cool waters echoing its secret chambers—that cave was always there. We said the shriek of Western rock was harsh, yet knew it did … Click to continue . . .
I’m currently about 120 pages into to this marvelous novel, translated from the French by Alison Anderson. A most enjoyable reflection on the human condition, class, Art, sickness, death and how we all seek our own raison d’être. More on this wonderful book later this week . . .
Wanted to welcome Ann Applegarth to Spinozablue. We have one of her fine poems on display here, and hope to present more of her visions from the southwest in the future.
I roam this world on sidewalks littered
with images of violence.
Maintenance crews work overtime,
even on Sundays and Christmas —
stout men, crawling on padded knees,
scrub concrete with caustic detergent,
broad steel-bristled brushes, and
elbow grease. The stains remain.
My satin slippers darken and fray.
Each dawn finds holes worn through
at least a dozen pairs — and I am
merely one frail princess, attired for
skipping down streets of polished gold.
— by Ann Applegarth
Ann Applegarth was awarded an Academy of American Poets prize at the University of New Mexico in 1980, and her work has appeared in publications such as Sin Fronteras, St. Anthony Messenger, West Wind Review, Bellowing Ark, Christianity & Literature, and Denali, and the anthologies Shadow and Light: Literature and the Life of Faith, Earthships: A New Mecca Poetry Collection, and Along the Rio Grande. She lives, writes, and administers an annual all-schools poetry contest in Roswell, New Mexico. To … Click to continue . . .